TAEDP New Book Releases:
《My Country Kills: Constitutional Challenges to the Death Penalty in Taiwan》
In 2010, with much fanfare, President Ma Ying-jeou, Premier Wu Dun-yih and Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu restarted executions to "comply with the law." With the full endorsement of the media, they put four inmates to death. The Constitutional Court, meanwhile, swiftly dismissed applications for judicial review of the death penalty, sacrificing its judicial independence to accommodate the executive branch and media.
In 2007, the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty assisted dozens of condemned inmates in filing for judicial review at the Constitutional Court. For three years, their application sat untouched. But in May 2010, shortly after the executions, the court dismissed the applications to accommodate the executive's actions. Although it only dismissed the cases, in essence it said that capital punishment did not violate the Constitution. In late March, the Judicial Yuan had also held an unprecedented press conference to state publicly that it was dismissing a separate review of the death penalty. This had clearly paved the road for executions.
The crux of the applications for judicial review concerned whether the death penalty was constitutional in light of the need to protect fundamental human rights and considering the arbitrariness of the trial process. Unfortunately, the Constitutional Court rushed to the defense of the death penalty system and failed to probe the questions at hand concerning constitutional law and universal human rights.